Holy Night (Ep. 4.10)
Written by: Aaron Sorkin
Directed by: Thomas Schlamme
Episode Description (from TV Guide):
It's two days before Christmas and who should appear but reporter Danny Concannon (Timothy Busfield). He's dressed as St. Nick, but isn't spreading good cheer. Also showing up at the White House is Toby's father (Toby isn't exactly pleased to see him); Bartlet's daughter Zoey, who's accompanied by her French boyfriend (Charlie isn't pleased to see him); and psychiatrist Stanley Keyworth (Adam Arkin), to whom both Bartlet and Leo complain about concentration lapses. Meanwhile, the president decides to rip up the HHS budget just before it's due at the printer's. That'll mean a lot of work over the holidays.
I just realized that every Christmas episode of The West Wing so far has been the tenth episode of the season. Interesting.
There is so much to love about this episode (oh, and by the way, I'm actually watching Holy Night as I'm writing, so this entry might be slightly more rambling than the others):
1. Toby and his dad
The teaser flashback to 1954 is an excellent set up to introduce Toby's father's past. You can actually feel the tension when Toby walks into his office and sees his father sitting there. He was obviously caught off guard so I can certainly understand why he gets so upset with Josh for getting his dad the appointment tag. But, still it's so sweet the reason he gives for why he did it:
All right, it was desperation. It wasn't out of a desire to do evil. He had a young
family and he barely spoke the language. He went to jail. He went to jail and you went
to school, and it was all a half century ago. Look what he did in two generations.
What room did you just walk out of?
I appreciate that that's what you think. Do I get to think what I think?
No, you don't, 'cause you don't know what I know.
That I would give anything to have a father who was a felon, or a sister
with a past. That's it.
3. Freudian slip
For goodness sakes Josh, Leo asked if YOU were staying in town, not DONNA. A little preoccupied with what your assistant is doing, are we?
4. The whole Andy being sued and Toby having to give a deposition thing
"As I understand pregnancy, it's a binary state. Either you are or you aren't." I love that he refuses to confirm Andy's pregnancy. You go, Toby! Good job!
5. The Holy Line of Demarcation
This was Will when he was actually a decent guy. The writers really ruined a good character when they moved him to VP Russell's office. At least he was somewhat redeemed in season seven. Will's complete unspooling when he meets with the President made me cringe...I can feel his pain, though, because it's totally something I would do.
6. Adam Arkin returns
Yay for Stanley! His conversation with the President about SAT scores is hilarious. I'm glad they chose to bring this character back for more episodes, but it's too bad this is such a brief appearance.
7. Charlie being kind of an asshole to Jean-Paul (and Zoey a little bit, too)
Yuck, I hated Jean-Paul from this initial appearance all the way to Zoey's kidnapping. What a snobby jerk. I felt so bad for Charlie, too, because it seemed a bit like Zoey was rubbing her new relationship in his face.
8. Danny and CJ
So happy to see Danny back in the West Wing. I'm solely a Josh/Donna shipper, but I do enjoy CJ and Danny's chemistry. This is the episode where CJ first starts to suspect that all is not what it appears in the disappearance of Sharif's plane. Allison Janney does a fantastic job in this episode.
9. The Church of the Nativity
Being Christmas and all, this is a fitting secondary (tertiary?) storyline. I like that Josh is willing to stay to help fix the roof...it's not like he has anything better to do with Donna running off to see Jack.
10. "I'm sorry. It's not what it looks like."
Oh Joshua, Josh, Josh. When will you learn? And, can I just say, I was quite surprised when Donna actually confronted Josh. I was so used to them dancing around their feelings, and this was really the first time she directly addressed (or attempted to address) the "thing" between them. That scene is really beautiful, too...with the colored lights all around, and Donna kind of glows in the dark room.
11. "Donna left?"
Poor Josh. He really looks quite sad when Leo tell him Donna's already on her way to the Inn. I like that Leo is worried he may have upset Josh by telling him about Donna...I think Leo knows Josh a lot better than the viewer realizes. This scene is one of those instances where we see that father/son relationship. And the "Get it together, would you, please?" is priceless. Again, poor Josh...he's trying but he does not look like he's being successful.
12. O Holy Night
I love this song. It's so beautiful, especially sung a capella the way it is in the final montage. Am I the only one who wonders if Josh is attempting to reach Donna on his cell phone? I choose to believe he is.
Merry Christmas, everyone!